Well, I’m baffled. First off, it must be said that was a rather good episode of Ace of Diamond on the whole. At the very least it was a marked improvement over the last couple of weeks, which is hardly surprising given that it was Eijun pitching. Things were very tense and rather exciting. But then Daiya no A had one of its signature “What the fuck was that?” moments that it unleashes from time to time, and I really couldn’t think of anything else after that.
First things first. While this is obviously a tough day for Eijun, I think it can be said that he passed a major test here. Between a bloop, a HR and an error he was clearly on-edge – so much so that his hands were visibly shaking on the mound. But he gathered himself, calmed his nerves, and got himself back in the moment – so much so that he picked off the baserunner, who was convinced the wild-eyed first-year pitcher had forgotten all about him. It was a pretty good display of steel.
I think what we’re seeing here is that as much of a tool as Furuya has been, the rivalry is working exactly as a coach would hope it would. Each of them is using the other as motivation, recognizing that the only way to stay ahead is to get better. It’s the fear in Furuya’s heart after watching Eijun dominate that drove him to success in this game, and it was seeing Furuya withstand (more or less) the Seiko pressure that prodded Eijun to suppress his nerves and soldier on.
And solider on he does – he gets the final out on a K, then almost bunts his way on-base in the bottom of the eighth. Only a great play by the deceptively agile Yokozuna-kun prevents a hit. Ogawa is pitching like a beast at this stage, giving Seidou absolutely nothing, and he provides more offense too – a leadoff single in the ninth. And after a great catch on a bunt attempt and a fielder’s choice on a bold hit-and-run, he finds himself at second with two out for Masu. I might have considered walking Masu here, but Kataoka pitches to him – and Masu does what he does. It’s a great, tense duel – and it only ends on the 10th pitch, when Masu singles a good pitch low-and-away to left field.
But that, sadly, is where it all goes terribly wrong. First of all, was Ogawa’s play at home plate dirty? Yes, unequivocally – illegal in high school and college ball, in fact, and in the aftermath of the Buster Posey disaster, now illegal in the majors as well. Even his own teammates and coaches are aghast at Ogawa here – I know I’ve been calling him “Yokozuna”, but little did I expect he would take it so literally,
It’s not so much that Diamond no Ace seems to be approving bad behavior – it’s done that plenty of times. No, the problem is the way this scene plays out. There’s an acknowledgement on everyone’s part that it was a dirtbag move, and then – boom! Masu says “I understand” and everyone just moves on as if nothing happened?? Why the hell bother to insert the scene at all if there are not going to be consequences (either from the umpire or the coach)? What’s the point, and what message are you trying to convey? Seriously, that kind of thing just irritates the hell out of me – but it’s just Daiya being Daiya, I suppose. Anyway, it’s extra innings and Miyuki is clearly in bad shape, so it seems this game is going to be in he balance for at least one more episode.